Congratulations go to Damien Hoyland, who we’ve seen plenty of times over the past couple of years playing for Melrose.
It was terrific to see him winning his first cap for Scotland against Italy. His rise through the ranks has been very quick, and while, earlier this week, he was dropped from Vern Cotter’s final squad, this experience will have done him no harm at all, and there’s little doubt that he will become a regular in the squad over the next few years.
Ironically, while Damien was preparing for his first appearance in a Scottish international, another man was playing in Melrose on Friday – a man who scored three tries for Edinburgh against Romania in the latter’s World Cup warm-up game.
He is Roddy Grant, former Gala player and someone who, try as he might, cannot get into Cotter’s squad, despite consistently turning out for Edinburgh and putting in world-class performances week-in, week-out.
He has captained Edinburgh and served his apprenticeship, wearing the Scotland jersey at 7s level and building up vast experience at the top level.
I see no reason why he shouldn’t be in the mix for a place in the World Cup squad for Scotland.
He’s seen players parachuted in to overtake him in the queue for a Scotland cap – some with far less experience – and it really is a puzzle.
He must be the most unlucky player this century not to win a cap for Scotland.
Turning to players who are in the Scotland squad and fighting for a place, the squad which won in Italy at the weekend put in a better performance collectively than the one which faced Ireland.
It was a win which Scotland just about deserved and a victory which is long overdue, following on from six defeats in a row which saw us slump down to 12th in the world rankings. We went back up again after the result in Turin, but the squad as a whole now need to push on at BT Murrayfield and get back-to-back wins over Italy on their home patch.
I fully expect some of our big guns to return for this match, including Stuart Hogg and Greig Laidlaw.
This Saturday’s game should provide the head coach with a few answers to the various conundrums in his mind.